Hello 2017 !!
Summer is the time for an abundance of gorgeous stone fruits. Baboushka (my Russian grandmother), had apricot and plum trees in her garden, and this time of year always reminds me of her. All summer long, her small kitchen smelled fragrant and sweet with these fruits. Undertones of vanilla added to the enticing aromas of this kitchen.
Try and find some trees where you can fill your own containers with spray free fruit - small growers are often happy to do this. For the following recipes, try to use good quality plums when at their ripest. The thickness and consistency of this jam, always varies with the ripeness of the fruit. The varying stages of ripeness, have differing pectin levels. All fruit contains its own natural pectin. Adding lemon juice to jam, causes the fruit to release its own pectin. If jam is not setting, add a little more lemon juice, and boil for an extra few minutes. Making jam, like any relationship, is based on the solid, scientific principles of chemistry. The chemistry needs to be just right - moderate amount of initial, gradual heat, followed by boiling, and then the setting. And finally - the cooling down. If any one of these elements overpowers the other, the end result will be less than satisfactory.
So give this a try... Plum Jam
2 kgs ripe plums, halved & stones removed
1 kg white sugar
Juice of 1 - 2 lemons
1 cup water
Bring all ingredients gently to the boil, stirring frequently so there is no sticking. Bring to setting point and pour into sterilised jars, and seal.
*Testing for setting point - place a few saucers in to the freezer. Place a small amount of jam onto the cold plate. If jam "wrinkles" on the surface, it is ready to pour into jars. If not, add a little more lemon juice, boil for about 5 more minutes, and test again.
And another plum favourite - "Kissel"
Kissel is a Russian style, summer fruit jelly that can be made with plums, apricots or apples. I remember many summer evenings, sitting on Baboushka's back porch, eating this delectable treat. It was served chilled, with a splash of cold milk on top.
Halve plums and remove the stones. Place into a saucepan, add a squeeze of lemon juice and barely cover with water. Poach until soft. For each cup of plums, mix 1 tsp of cornflour with 2 tsp of cold water. Add sugar to taste and briefly bring to the boil. Chill thoroughly before serving.